Remembering Suraiya

June 15 mark the death anniversary of Suraiya, the enchanting actress cum singing sensation of the 40’s and 50’s who gave a hard time to ruling playback ‘colossal’ of her era like Zohrabai Ambalewali, Amirbai Karnatki, Shamshad Begum and what’s stunning she even left behind the sovereign of Ghazals – Begam Akhtar! The only artist to give her a tough time was ‘Mallika-e-Tarannum’ Noorjahan, the numero uno actress cum singing queen of that period.

Few know when Mehboob Khan announced ‘ANMOL GHADI’ clashing these two titans, it become the biggest casting coup in the history of Indian cinema. Till the movie blazed the screen, spicy tales of the two actresses abandoned with film buffs gambling money on the two actresses! 

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Finally it was Noorjahan, who took the cake with four super-hits including the all time classic- “Aawaz de kahan hai…” while Suraiya had to remain contended with just a single hit –“ socha tha kya, kya ho gaya…”

Suraiya would have thus remained an ordinary actress be it not for Noorjahan to quite India due to the horrifying partition. Noorjahan moved to Pakistan leaving grounds open for Suraiya.

The following year after partition 1948 and1949 thus proved a boon for Suraiya. She gave three super hits in a row ‘PYAR KI JEET’, DILLAGI, BADI BEHEN and become the ‘Highest’ paid actress of her time.

She become so popular that leading ‘stars’ were eager to work with her. In fact, the superstar of the 40’s K.L.Saigal was so impressed with Suraiya that once when he visited filmmaker Jayant Desai’s set where Suraiya was rehearsing a song, Saigal was bowled over by Suraiya’s exceptional singing technique and immediately persuaded filmmaker Desai to cast her opposite him. 

Thus the movie ‘TADBEER’ was made. It became the most talked about film as people anticipated an interesting confrontation of the two gigantic talents of music world. Saigal, who had been Suriaya’s idol, working with him was her life’s biggest dream come true.

Besides Saigal, Suraiya had the prestige of working with industries most respected and renowned actor – Prithviraj Kapoor in her last movie – Rustom Sohrab.

Top songs of Suraiya